DETROIT – Career growth is an imperative aspect of life, perhaps the most crucial one to help you achieve your life’s biggest dreams. Before obtaining your current career, it’s critical to learn skills and experience aligned with your path. Continuous and persistent learning can give you an edge and make you stand out in the professional pool. 

As we approach 2021, there isn’t any better time to instill change and progress in your personal and career development than right now. To resume your progress, you should learn and develop skills relevant to today’s time. 

If you’re still undecided about your career, it’s worth looking at reports, trends, and analyses of the career landscape. This way, you can pick your preferred career path that can give maximized returns for your future.

On the other hand, people situated in the corporate world should also enhance their skills and qualifications to open more doors of opportunities and increase their earning potential. 

If you’re looking into advancing your career by learning new skills, you’ve come to the right place. 

Career Growth and Demand In 2021: A Bird’s Eye View

The 21st century is undoubtedly a century of technological innovations. As society moves into further automation and digitization, it should be clear to you by now that tech-related industries will flourish the most. 

Meanwhile, clerical and manual jobs have a precarious future. In the next 10 to 15 years, computers and robots will displace many jobs, affecting about 75 to 375 million people who’ll need to change their occupational brackets as early as they can. If you’re affected by this digital transformation, it’s necessary to discover new skills like those discussed in this article. 

Fortunately, specific career paths cover many different skills, allowing individuals to explore other careers with their existing educational and occupational experience. For instance, if you finished or are planning to take an MBA degree, you can take numerous career paths as a financial advisor, HR manager, finance manager, and management analyst, to name a few because you possess adequate skills and mastery from your degree. 

For the highlight of this article, we’re taking a look at the most in-demand skills this year not only to display them on your resume or CV, but use them to fulfill your career role efficiently: 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) And Machine Learning (ML)  

Field: Computer Science, Information and Communications Technology (ICT)

The world we live in is getting more automated. Tech experts build different computers and machines to aid various operations from mundane, recurring ones to specific, complex activities. While these devices can work without human intervention, they have to be programmed during creation and before utilization, thus requiring AI and ML. 

In spite of their extensive use today, many people still interpret AI and ML interchangeably. Artificial intelligence enables machines to have thinking power like humans by using machine learning algorithms. In contrast, machine learning is a subcategory of AI that centers on teaching a computer to learn by itself without programmed input. 

Having skills associated with AI and ML is highly advantageous as these two are applicable in numerous fields such as:

  • Healthcare and medicine 
  • Education
  • E-commerce and retail
  • Financial markets and services
  • Recruitment and human resources (HR) 

Environmental Planning

Field: Architecture, Urban Planning

Along with technological, manufacturing, and infrastructural development in different parts of the globe is the increasing need for proper environmental planning. The past had witnessed enough non-sustainable construction projects that only contributed to the demise of the environment and economy. 

Environmental planning is an essential skill that’ll continuously figure in urban development projects in the future. Individuals aligned with an architectural path will benefit the most from having this skill. 

Essentially, environmental planning tackles decision-making and planning of development projects with sustainable outcomes in consideration of environmental, economic, social, and governance factors. For instance, if a transportation company was to build a new railway system in a particular location, environmental planning will take care of this project’s potential effects on the environment and find ways to mitigate detrimental impacts. 

If you’d like to pursue a career as an environmental planner, take note that skills alone aren’t enough qualifications. You also need to have, at least, a bachelor’s degree in environmental planning and accomplish particular certifications. 

From 2018 to 2028, environmental planners have a projected growth rate of 11% for urban and regional planners, with a median salary of USD$76,500 annually.

Cloud Security 

Field: Computer Science, ICT

Gone are the days of manual and pen-and-paper operations, thanks to the cloud, a collection of remote servers placed in the Internet ecosystem. Simply put, the cloud is where online users can save, access, edit, and share data and programs within the Internet, a technology called cloud computing. Your Google Drive, Dropbox, or Microsoft 365 are examples of cloud computing services. 

Cloud computing has taken the center stage of the online infrastructure today. Many industries and companies are still experiencing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as necessary remote working and operations. Their migration and reliance in the cloud should be protected through security solutions. 

The skill of cloud security will focus on securing cloud-based systems, networks, and infrastructure. From a market size of 578 million in 2019, the cloud security industry is projected to grow by 13.2% or 1.5 million in 2027. Because the use of the cloud doesn’t look like it’s going to plummet for the next few years, cloud security will definitely be a consistent, in-demand skill.

Blockchain Technology 

Field: Finance Technology, Computer Science, ICT

Blockchain technology is widely recognized in the cryptocurrency industry, but you might be surprised to know that it’s only a portion of blockchain technology’s capabilities. With the help of blockchain technology, cryptocurrency exists without a central authority like banks, but money and currency involved in the industry remain safe and fraud-free. 

Aside from crypto, here are the most useful applications of blockchain technology that you can engage in upon taking this skill to corresponding career paths:

  • Supply chain monitoring 
  • Money transfer and payment processing
  • Data sharing
  • Real estate, auto, and land transfers
  • Copyright and royalty protection
  • Equity trading 
  • Digital IDs
  • Tax regulation and compliance 
  • Food safety
  • Weapons tracking 
  • Internet of things (IoT) network management 
  • Medical recordkeeping

Looking at these unimaginable uses of blockchain technology, it’s worth possessing this skill to be applied in a wide range of industries, from banking to healthcare. As estimated by Glassdoor, blockchain-based jobs had a whopping increase of 300% from 2017 to 2018, with an average annual salary of USD$84,884. 

Natural Language Processing (NLP)

Field: Computer Science, Computational Linguistics, AI

Although machine learning is acknowledged as a facet of AI, another subset that doesn’t get much recognition is natural language processing (NLP). If you’re familiar with voice-to-text dictation, language translation, smart assistants, and chatbots, these technologies are powered by the one and only NLP. 

Basically, NLP is the amalgamation of AI and linguistics, allowing people to talk to computers and machines as if they’re also human beings. 

In the span of six years, the NLP industry is predicted to boom from USD$9.9 billion in 2020 to USD$27.6 billion in 2026. As the healthcare industry is still experiencing COVID-19 difficulties, many healthcare institutions utilize NLP for healthcare management cases unrelated to the pandemic. This is only the start of more NLP applications in the future. 

Currently, most data exchange occurs online, whether it’s a search engine result or an in-app social media message. Traditional methods of understanding text are getting overwhelmed with too much data being generated every second, and this is where NLP does its job flawlessly. 

Natural language processing is no longer the future of many industries as it’s already here. As businesses and organizations incorporate NLP in their operations, they’ll need people equipped with the skill of understanding, navigating, and configuring NLP into their needs. 

Development and Operations

Field: Computer Science, ICT, Software Development

Perhaps the most popular and sought-after skill today in the IT industry is DevOps. It’s a fairly emerging technology in the technical community that oversees the interaction of two or more enterprises with one another, compared with the conventional way of siloed operations. 

In short, DevOps is the practice where development and operations engineers collaborate to craft an entire service lifestyle, giving organizations an efficient channel to accomplish many projects starting from design down to production support. 

With its favorable advantages, a lot of companies are adopting business systems driven by DevOps. In this 2016 survey, 74% of start-ups and old enterprises combined have started implementing DevOps in their businesses. 

What makes DevOps such an appealing innovation for companies? Anywhere in the software and business chain, DevOps offer support and configuration. It’s conducive for software development, operations and testing, and even management and governance.

If you’re planning to take on a DevOps career path, you can delve deeper into improving your skill in different practices under it, such as:

  • Microservices
  • Continuous integration
  • Infrastructure as code
  • Communication and collaboration
  • Continuous delivery
  • Monitoring and logging 

Product Management

Field: Business Marketing and Sales, Business Development, Business Engineering

At first glance, product management may sound too simple and replaceable. Product management is also often mistaken with other niches like UX design and project management. Today, we see a completely different picture as product management is rising both in popularity and demand. 

According to this study, product management roles in the United States climbed by 32% in a two-year period from 2017 to 2019, five times as in-demand than other US jobs. Individuals seasoned with product management skills, expertise, and experience are even more wanted than entry-level roles. 

What’s the deal? Why are companies competing with product manager recruitments? Here are a few most important reasons for product management’s demand:

  • In the present data-driven world, companies no longer ignore data and its importance. Therefore, they’ll need a designated expert to collect, analyze, and apply these data into their product building. 
  • Almost all companies have engaged in digital transformation to deliver competitive digital experiences to customers. They’ll need people with product management skills to help align their products and services to their very own digital experience. 
  • The rapid pace of the technology market pushes business leaders to improve their products and services consistently. If you neglect product and service improvement, expect to lose customers and revenue overnight. 
  • Seeing how business competitors are outdoing each other, consumers, on the other hand, are increasing their standards—a more personalized product and service experience. If you can’t provide this to your new and existing customers, they can immediately find another company that will.

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) 

Field: Reality Technology 

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are two technologies that people often only associate with gaming and entertainment, but they can offer broader possibilities to a plethora of industries. To explain this in a better light, see which players in the industry are dominating the use of VR and AR: Google Inc., Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Microsoft Corporation, and Apple Inc. 

Amidst the pandemic, VR and AR help businesses develop their business strategy and provide enhanced customer support. Because workplaces can easily implement this inexpensive and distributable technology, employees can have better, concentrated, and immersive training experiences that’ll make them feel like they’re actually in the room with their co-workers.

Because AR and VR are highly adaptable to different industries, this skill can give you an advantage in many employment opportunities. Here are some career paths that you can come across by having indispensable skills in AR and VR:

  • Software developer
  • Software engineer
  • Design or graphics engineer
  • AR/VR maintenance and support
  • Product manager
  • Quality assurance engineer
  • UI and UX designer 
  • Content producer 

For a 10-year forecast period from 2020 to 2030, the AR and VR market is expected to increase by 42.9% CAGR from USD$37 billion to a whopping USD$1,274 billion. 

Bottom Line

Your skills, time, and efforts are your life’s most significant investments. With these, expect fruitful returns of a successful career. If you’re looking into improving your skills to increase your learning and career opportunities, maximize your investments by choosing the right, in-demand skills elaborated on in this article to secure your future.

This is a guest column.